Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Disappearing Bite - June 25th

Today Greg, Brad and I floated the from the top of Shanklin's to Cedar Branch takeout. Had today been a football game it would have been "The tale of two halves".  The first 2 hours I could do not wrong and during the last three hours I could do no right. I started off catching 21 fish including 3 fish over 14" in the first 2 hours off a green pumpkin hula grub with chart tips (my go to bait all spring). Then at 10:30am Claytor dam cut back the water and when they did our water dropped about 12" and the bite just died. Greg picked up a few with a fluke finesse bite but my jig bite went away. I caught only 3 more fish in the next 3 hours.  And to make matters even worse the sun got high and bright all the while the wind picked up and became a menace.
Miles floated = 6.5
Fish Caught = 24
Fish caught as a group = 75
Minutes per fish = 13.75
Biggest fish = 15.0"
Biggest five fish = 70.25"

Saturday, June 24, 2017

First Official Float of Summer - June 24th, 2017

June 21st ushered in the official beginning of summer. Greg, Brad and I headed over to float 5.5 miles on the Virginia side of the New River. I have not been over here in couple years. I think this is an above average float for fish and scenery. I struggled early today putting zero fish up in the hour on the water. I missed a couple early on the plopper while Greg was hammering them on a ned rig with twin tail grub trailer. I got wise and switched over and started catching fish although nothing big at all. Brad steadily picked a few up on a spinner and the old classic rebel crawdad. What I love about his float is that we saw virtually no one on the water in our 4.5 hours on the water.

Miles floated = 5.5
Total fish caught = 17
Fish caught as a group = 46
Minutes per fish = 15.06
Biggest fish = 12.75"
Biggest five fish = 56.75" 

Monday, June 19, 2017

WVKA First Event- June 17th, 2017

Greg's new camper complete with AC, kitchen island, flat screen TV and fireplace. We referred to it as "Trump Trailer". 
Greg Nahodil, Greg Davis and I headed to Stonewall Jackson State Park for the first ever West Virginia Kayak Anglers tournament. The WVKA is a new tournament trail started by my friend John Rapp. WVKA is unique because each tournament has both an individual event and 2 man team event. Nahodil and I fished the team 2 man event together. This event took place on one of the hottest days of the year in WV. Anlgers had the choice of fishing Stonewall Jackson Lake, Stonecoal Lake or West Fork river. Due to storms earlier in the week the water has falling on all three fisheries. The three of us along with Brandon Wamsley, Lorisa Squires, and LJ Ashcraft elected to drive north and fish the West Fork river due to scouting reports that said Stonewall would be extremely tough post spawn highly pressured fish with more places to hide than you could effectively cover in a yak. We floated a 5 mile section beginning at Worthington Dam and proceeding south.  The bit was extremely tough. I worked as hard to catch a pitifiul 45.5" five fish limit as every before. The only pattern I could assemble is fish were in moving water hitting white g tails and occasionally dark colored hula grub. The water had heavy stain. The thing we were up against was that the West fork river is small and has a ton of flat non productive water. I think there were only 7 set of shoals in five miles. I was quick to see the pattern and I let everyone in our group go ahead and I held back and worked to death every set of shoals I came to. I was catching fish but mostly the wrong species and short fish below the 8" limit to measure. I caught a drum, a sauger, and even a turtle. Greg was having the same problem only more so. He landed a 18" catfish and a 15" hybrid but was struggling to find a keeper bite. At the end of the day it was a tough a tournament for river and lake guys as I have ever seen. My pitiful 45.5" limit placed me in the money at 8th place out of 82 anglers. And as a team even though Greg only had 2 fish placed us in 3rd out of 32 teams. The folks on the lake mostly got zeroed. There were 47 anglers who failed to measure a keeper out of 82 angler! This tournament gave me new appreciation for the New river as a fishery. Only a week ago all but two of our anglers caught a  5 fish limit with the average angler catching over 22 fish in a 6 hour tournament. Had Greg and I managed just one more 10 inch keeper we would have moved up from third to first place. The tournament itself was as fun as they come. John Rapp and company did an amazing job. Everyone got door prizes, hats, shirts, and a good time was had by all. As for our groups decision to fish the West fork over the lake Brandon came in 7th one spot ahead of me and Lorisa won top female angler and nearly big fish with her 16.5" smallmouth. Greg finished 22nd with only two keepers. LJ however manged only one 10" fish and ended up thirty something place.  The next WVKA event is in the end of July on the Tygart river and I really hope to get to fish it. I had a great time.
Miles floated = 5
Fish Caught = 17
Biggest fish = 10.0" (yeah really) But when you got short keepers and others don't they look good. I had a drum and sauger that where in the teens.
Best five fish = 45.5"
Minutes per fish = 24.7

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sandstone Sunday Afternoon- June 11th, 2017

I thought I had "the one" for just a second there when I hooked this catfish on a jig.
Greg Davis, Randy and I floated from Sandstone to Meadow Creek on a hot but otherwise perfect Sunday afternoon. The river had seen a lot of pressure and traffic over the past 3 days. It is great to spend some time with a couple of my co-workers outside of the confines of work. I found a backwater cover early and caught several redeyes and smaller bass. I caught a nice sized channel cat behind the I-64 bridge support beam. I really thought that catfish was going to end up being a big smallmouth or maybe a walleye, they stock those in this section of the New river. I found a couple deeper pockets out of current with shad that held a couple better fish but other than that fish were sparse. I think the fish fed good most all week and had seen some considerable pressure over the weekend so their strike zones had shrunk compared to Saturday morning. Still a wonderful evening to spend with friends on one of the most beautiful rivers in the whole country.
Miles Floated = 4.0
Fish caught = 17
Biggest Fish = 13.75"
Biggest Five Fish = 63.25"
Minutes per Fish = 10.5

SCKBA New River Open - June 10th, 2017

Jared Meadows measuring his catch on a hawg trough.
Dead soldiers.
Joe Farley in center who finished 1st place, Bryan Bostic on left who finished 3rd, and Amos Hicks on right who finished second. Congrats guys on a great performance.
Brandon Adkins was again our top youth angler  finishing 7th overall.
Today was the second SCKBA live event of the year, the New River Challenge. We had 27 anglers participate today on what was an excellent day for catching number of bass. Of the 27 anglers who fished our event today 25 of them came back to weigh-in and completed a scoring sheet. Of the 25 who came back to weigh-in they caught a combined total of 571 bass! That is 22.84 bass per anlger and an average of 17.04 minutes per bass for the entire tournament field. The entire tournament field fished a grand total of 150 hours fished. So to maintain an average of a fish every 17.04 minutes over a span of 150 man hours fished is amazing. We had two women and four under 16 anglers who competed today. The winner was Joe Farley who fished the New river above the lake. Joe landed a total of 91" in his five fish limit. That is a staggering 18.2" average fish length for his five biggest fish limit. I had wanted to fish the New above the lake however my girls had a dance recital at 1pm and I had to quit fishing an hour early and fish in town so that I could make it to their recital. Ultimately though I do not think I would have hung with 91". The large number of catches and large number of big fish tells me that the New river is as stout a fishery as ever before. Of the 571 fish caught by 25 anglers today 42 of them were > 12" in length. That means that 7.53% of the fish caught today were greater than a pound in weight.
 I fished from the dam to the bridge and threw hula grubs all day long. I landed 38 fish and ended up coming in 6th out of 27 anglers with a five fish limit of 64.5". I used the same pattern that I had been using all week. I was getting bit so good that at one point I was measuring a fish and had my jig hanging over the edge of the boat and another bass came up hit the jig almost took my pole and I caught him as well. I was catching good numbers of fish especially early before cloud mat and fog lifted and it got sunny and hot. It was a heck of a day.
Miles floated = 3.5
Total fish caught = 38
Fish per minute = 7.10
Biggest fish = 14.5"
Biggest five fish = 64.5"
Place finished = 6th out of 27 anglers

Greenbrier River Sunset- June 9th, 2017

There are few places to be that are nicer than WV during the month of June. I have to say that I feel pretty fortunate that on a Friday afterwork I can put my yak on a cart walk 50 yards to the river and fish. Today I put my orginal yellow jacket Coosa in below my house on the Greenbrier and paddled upstream about three fourths of a mile up stream and floated back. I caught fish but they were all short. Some on a jig and some on topwater but no real pattern stood out. It was a perfect evening to get out and fish despite the fact the fish were not as active as they had been in the previous week. After I got off the water I set around the fire with my girls. It was a nice evening.
Total Fish Caught = 13
Miles floated = 0.75
Biggest fish = 12"
Best five fish = ~52"
Minutes per fish = 9.8

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

After Work Jig Flipping - June 7th, 2017

I hit the New for a couple of quick hours of jig flipping after work today. The water was still heavily stained due to the big rain we had on Monday. The falling water had the fish pulled out a few feet from the grass edges where I found them the other day. I got a lot of bites fishing my way around the edges and ledges of the deep hole but caught nothing big. My biggest was 14.75" seen the picture. It was  a nice cool overcast evening with no humidity to cope with . A relaxing afternoon to fish. Once again my river stick proved invaluable. It allows me to pull up on a spot, lock down and pull it apart. A feet I thought impossible in the river before getting a shallow water anchor. Before it was you get one quick cast as you drift on by.
Miles Floated = 0.25
Total Fish Caught = 15
Minutes per Fish = 8.5
Biggest Fish = 14.75"
Biggest 5 Fish = 61.75"

Beech Run Mudline Wade - June 5th, 2017

I did not take a camera for this quick outing because I was just wading. It had rained all day while I was at work. I kept thinking all day about how rising water turns smallmouth into ravenous bastards. They were running about 6 gates and all the small creeks were rolling pure mud by the time I got there. I grabbed my pole, life jacket, and wading shoes. I parked at the old spot were Three Rivers Edge used to be prior to it being demolished. I waded around on the bank and grass edge for about 90 minutes. I pitched my hula grubs in the still water eddies created by the high current. I caught a 14 and a 16" smallie in the first 5 minutes right around the ear where the waterline goes from green stain to pure mud from the run off from Beech Run. Ironically the same water that drained from my Dad's old home place farm on Beech Run. I continued up and down the grass edge picking off bass here and there. I ended up with 12 in a quick 90 minute wade around the grass beds just upriver from where I had caught them only a day prior. The river will soon be so muddy that the only fishing it is good for is cat fishing, but for today it made for some quick action and good fights.
Miles floated  = 0
Total fish Caught = 12
Minutes per fish = 7.5
Biggest fish = 16"
Biggest five fish = 62.5"

Sunday Afternoon Pocket Water - June 4th, 2017

If your looking for a week of the year to take some time off and target big numbers of smallmouth on the river. The first week of June would be you sweet spot. The water is a little higher today than normal and the fish are stacked in pocket water along grass edges. The stained water keeps them from being spooky. This along with warm stable weather adds up to big numbers quick on the river. I have been pitching hula grubs in black or green pumpkin and getting bit quick. Today I fished for only 2 hours and landed 21 while hooking several more bass that got off or that I swung on an missed. At one point in the day I switched to a shakey head worm to test out how effective it could be in the river. The shakey head caught fish nearly as good as the hula grub but not as effective. The hula grub imitates a crawfish which are a smallmouths primary forage better than most anything. Crawfish like to hide in and around grass where there is hard bottom rock to hide it. So fishing hula grubs around these area portrays a crawfish that did not get the memo on hiding and eager smallmouth are quick to educate. Later in the summer when crawfish populations drop significantly, sustain fishing pressure as made fish more weary, and the water gets gin clear the little finesse shakey head may start to out fish my hula grub. Today I just put in behind Advance and fished around the heart shaped outline that the big hole allows. I fished the Greenbrier side, New rive ride, and the island grass  beds in the middle. I have been making an effort to fish for a sustained amount of time at specific spots along my normal float routes that I often just make a quick pass through as part of a longer larger float fishing trip. Doing this allows me to be more effective on my home water and find things that my normal float routine has missed or glossed over.

Miles Float= 0.25
Total fish caught = 21
Minutes per fish = 5.7
Biggest fish = 15"
Biggest 5 fish 66.5"

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On the Edge of the Grass- June 3rd, 2017

Jackson Coosa's four wide on the New River
Hunter in his new Jackson Coosa Yak Attack Angler Edition
Brad, Greg, Hunter and I floated a 4 gate kind of morning on the New. Today was Hunters first trip on the river with is New yak. The high water put the fish concentrated in pockets and very vulnerable to a jig. I flipped and pitched a darker color all morning in the stained water. Anywhere you could find a grass edge with pocket water with access to deeper water nearby you were in serious business. This time of the year is notorious for good number and very little size and today was no exception. Brad and I each landed 28 and Greg caught 27. Hunter was learning the river and how to fish out of his new yak but still managed to catch 8. The four of us landed at total of 91 fish in a 3mile four hour float between 6:30am and 10:30am. We were off the water before most anglers even made it to the water. Sleeping in comes with a cost on Saturday mornings in the spring on the river.
Miles floated = 3.5
Fish caught by me = 28
Total fish caught by group of 4 = 91
Minutes per fish = 9.6
Biggest fish = 15"
Biggest five fish = 62"